Sarah, Duchess of York

From Academic Kids

Sarah, Duchess of York (born 15 October 1959) is the former wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

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Sarah, Duchess of York

She was born as Sarah Margaret Ferguson, and due to her maiden name is often referred to as "Fergie". During her marriage she was formally styled "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York," and became "Sarah, Duchess of York" upon her divorce, although this style would lapse if she remarried.

Sarah is a daughter of Major Ronald Ivor Ferguson and his first wife, Susan Mary Wright. Though widely referred to as a commoner, which in the strictest sense is true, the Duchess comes from an aristocratic background. She is a great-great-granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Buccleuch, a great-granddaughter of the 8th Viscount Powerscourt, a direct descendant of William the Conqueror, and a stepgranddaughter of Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst. Through her paternal grandmother, Lady Elmhirst (née Marian Montagu-Douglas-Scott), she also is a distant cousin of the late Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, an aunt of Queen Elizabeth II.

She married HRH The Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on July 23, 1986, and they had two daughters, Beatrice (1988- ) and Eugenie (1990- ), before divorcing in 1996. Despite their divorce, the couple remain close and live together with their children. Her romances -- including those with her one-time American financial advisor, John Bryan, and a Tuscan aristocrat, Count Gaddo della Gherardesca -- have kept her in the gossip columns as frequently and as prominently as her business endeavors and personal candor.

Sarah struggled with her weight, under intense media spotlight (she saw many publications dub her unflatteringly as "The Duchess of Pork" [1] ( The press criticism was constant, focussing not only on her weight but her lifestyle and perceived extravagance. Sarah vigorously contests this treatment in her autobiography, whilst admitting the pain that it caused her.

Having lost weight and discovered a new confidence, Sarah felt able to pass on her experience to others as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Her other commercial interests in the USA include fronting publicity campaigns for Wedgewood China and Westfield Malls, drawing crowds of thousands at promotional events. These activities, as well as the success of her many books, have allowed Sarah to overcome the huge multi-million pound debts that she ran up in the 80s and early 90s, and to establish her financial independence following her divorce. She avoids commercial activity in Britain so as not to upset the Royal Family.

Since her divorce, Sarah has hosted her own talk show, although this did not meet with a great deal of success. It did, however, lead to further broadcasting and advertising work on American television. She has raised funds for children's charities, most notably as the official US spokesperson for the international charity SOS Children's Villages. Sarah also heads two charities of her own, 'Chances for Children' and 'Children in Crisis', and has spent time in Sierra Leone, meeting children wounded or orphaned by the civil war, and raising money and awareness of the cause.

The Duchess is also an author. Her autobiography, 'My Story'(1996) tells of the transition from (relatively) ordinary country girl to Royal Duchess, and the struggles with her own self-esteem in the face of constant media criticism. 'What I Know Now; Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way' (2003) is also autobiographical, but has a very different context. In it, Sarah relates to her readers short anecdotes, each demonstating a particular 'life lesson' or view of the world. Alongside several guides to dieting, she has published many children's books. In 1987, she was inspired by the helicopter lessons she was taking to create the character of 'Budgie the Helicopter'. The plot, style and illustration of the first Budgie book was alleged to be remarkably similar to an existing children's book, Hector the Helicopter by Arthur W. Baldwin. "It is difficult for us to say that anything has been literally copied," wrote Jane Moore, group legal adviser of Reed International Books in a letter, "but if this was not a major source of inspiration for the Budgie books then it is a remarkable coincidence"1. Reed International did not pursue a claim for copyright infringement, and the Duchess of York has always vigorously denied accusations of plagiarism. In recent years, she has created a second children's character, 'Lil' Red'. Furthermore, Sarah revealed in a recent interview with London's Evening Standard that she is writing an adult novel entitled 'Hartmoor', in which the heroine, Lady Margaret Hartmoor, is a kind of 17th century alter ego of the author herself. (Her middle name, is, of course, Margaret).

In her leisure time, the Duchess of York is a keen equestrian, a passion that came from her childhood on her parents' farm in the Hampshire countryside. She is a qualified pilot and also enjoys skiing, classical music, and spending time with her two daughters. She has no permanent home as such, as her commercial activities require constant travel, but spends time at her husbands home, Sunninghill Park, near Ascot, and at a rented home in Wyndlesham, Surrey.

Titles from birth

Here is a list of Sarah, Duchess of York's styles in chronological order.

  • Miss Sarah Ferguson (1959-1986)
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York (1986-1996)
  • Sarah, Duchess of York (1996- )

Selected works

  • Budgie: The Little Helicopter
  • Budgie: At Bendick's Point
  • Budgie Goes To Sea
  • Budgie And The Blizzard


  1. The Royals by Kitty Kelley (Chapter 17)de:Sarah Ferguson

nl:Sarah Ferguson


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